Three wins from four for Etixx-QuickStep at Tour de Pologne
Fernando Gaviria enjoyed his second win from four stages at the Tour de Pologne in Rzeszów/Podkarpackie as Etixx-QuickStep further stamped its authority upon the WorldTour race. The Colombian proved to be too fast for Orica-BikeExchange's Luka Mezgec and Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski in the finale, and in winning the stage, also extended his overall lead.
"It was a great first half of the Tour de Pologne for me and my team with three wins and the yellow jersey, but of course the next two stages are really gruelling and it will be difficult to keep the leader’s jersey," said Gaviria. "The Tour de Pologne has been a really hard race for me so far because there have been no teams that can control the race, so we have to work hard every day to keep the jersey, and for the stage. Was I surprised that Kwiatkowski could sprint for 3rd place, because he is not a sprinter? But he's a world champion and a world champion is always a great rider so I guess I am not surprised."
Having won the first two stages, Niccolo Bonifazio took a stage off Etixx-QuickStep in Nowy Sacz, before 21-year-old Gaviria restored the natural order and claimed the 37th win of the season for the Belgian WorldTour team.
While Gaviria was pleased to have taken the win, his thoughts quickly turned to France following the Bastille Day attack in Nice.
"The only thing that makes me sad after this victory is what happened in France, on Thursday evening," he added. "It's impossible not to think of it and I want to send my thoughts and condolences to the families of the victims and to all those who are suffering and in pain. I really hope such things will come to an end, because it's really crazy that we can't live in a world of peace and understanding."
Click here to read the stage 4 race report.
Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) wins stage 4 in Poland (Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
Fabio Aru disappointed with time trial showing
Astana captain Fabio Aru was one of several riders to struggle through the 13th stage of the Tour de France with the challenging 37.5km parcours made even more difficult by the weather conditions. The 2015 Vuelta a Espana winner finished 37th, 4:25 minutes down on winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) to drop from eighth to tenth on the overall standings.
"I lost a bit too much and I cannot be satisfied," said Aru of the stage. "The wind was blowing so strong but it was there for all and it cannot be an excuse… I have given my best today, nonetheless the result is not the one I aimed to."
Aru is making his Tour de France debut this July with the aim of continuing his grand tour record of finishing top-five in his last four starts in a three week race. With the Alps to come in the final week of the race, Aru stressed that he believes he can still challenge for the podium
"The important thing now is to rest and regain energy for the next day: the Tour is still long, still 8 stages where anything can happen until Paris. We must remain competitive and concentrated till the end," added Aru, who has taken third week stage wins at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.
Tour of Poland race director Czeslaw Lang to donate a Colnago to Pope Francis
On Saturday morning at the Wieliczka – Brzegi – Campus Misericordiae, Tour of Poland race director Czeslaw Lang will donate a Colnago bicycle to Pope Francis. While the Pope won't be present, he will be in Poland later this month for World Youth Day which will be held in Krakow, the bicycle will be delivered to the Caritas organisation.
"Ernesto has always been an important figure in my life, to whom I really owe a lot," said Czeslaw Lang who enjoyed a career as a professional cyclist.
"He has a special bond with Poland. I remember when a meeting with Karol Wojtyla was organized in Rome, and Ernesto Colnago brought the Holy Father a racing bicycle, because he knew that as a young man in Krakow, He had been an excellent cyclist. Afterward the bike was substituted with a touring model, which was more practical for the Pontiff, who used it during his outings in Castelgandolfo. It was a very emotional meeting."
Lang added that he hopes the donation can be seen in the broader context of current global affairs and be seen a gesture of peace and good will.
"The 2016 World Youth Day will be a great opportunity for all of Poland. Even in light of the tragic events that happened in Nice, and which have been happening all too often lately, I want to say that now more than ever there is a need for peace, brotherhood and unity among all of humanity," he added. "Young people are our future, they can be and should be the foundation upon which we build a better world. In Krakow we will all come together for an important moment. We can only hope that sports and cycling can play an essential role in spreading a message of peace and hope in these trying times."
Winds see early start to Tour de France stage 14
The winds which have buffeted the last two stages of the Tour de France will again be present on stage 14 from Montélimar to Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux with race organisers ASO moving forward the start time by 15 minutes in response. The 208km stage will now start at 11:45am rather than midday as originally scheduled .
A minute of silence will also be observed by the peloton and the race before the stage gets underway in memorial of the victims from the Bastille Day attack in Nice.
While sunny weather is forecasted for Saturday's stage, with the temperature between 21° to 28°C, strong winds from the north, between 40 km/h and 80 km/h, are expected for the riders.